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Archive for the ‘Friends’ Category

The Power of a Returned Photograph

Nov 13

In Friends at 7:09pm

Dave Burnett is over in Dubai right now, working with Mohamed Somji and our dear friends at GPP. I have known David since the late 70′s, and have always stood back in awe as he amassed a visual archive that is the stuff of our collective histories. Got a wonderful email from him this morning that mentioned Ravi’s Restaurant. (I’m in Hong Kong, and bouncing off the walls of my hotel with the false energy of jet lag masked by a couple espressos.)

Last year, I made a few portraits of the staff at Ravi’s, a wonderful restaurant on the streets of one of the those out of the way neighborhoods in Dubai, far from the soaring towers of steel and glass. Beautiful food, and the kitchen crew are an affable, decent bunch. David and Mo wandered over for a meal last night, and Mo had thoughtfully taken the time to make some prints out of the quick pix I had shot last year. 

It was just heart warming to see these expressions, all the way from Dubai to Hong Kong. I have to expect this doesn’t happen everyday for these fellas. Thank you David and Mo….makes my day. Or night. Or…whichever it is.

And, it appears their visit wasn’t just about distributing pictures. David, ever the story teller, sent this as well. When you’re talking Ravi’s, it’s all about the bread.

More tk….

One Jersey Guy to Another….

Jul 17

In Friends, Rambling at 8:13am

K-Man and I go back aways. I’ve worked for him as he has organized a number of annual reports and portrait assignments over time. We got to know each well over the course of some occasionally arduous travel. I’m even acquainted with Flo, his non-stop roadie mate. He runs a blog, Jersey Style Photography, and has a passion for old style Hollywood noir. Hence it was a natural to include him, his fedora, and his formidable mohaska back when I was putting together the Hot Shoe Diaries.

He shoots good stuff, and we have always traded pics and chatted about shooting. He commented on Monday’s post when I discussed grain, Tri-x and the amazing advances in digital photography.

“I certainly haven’t done it nearly as long as you (you’ve forgotten more about photography than I’ll probably ever learn) but isn’t it something: You put those first photos online today, and you’d be flamed for “all that grain.” Yet, that baseball pic is, to me, one of your iconic images, one I think about often. Because you got the moment: the expressions, the dust, the dirt. All those old cool concert photos shooters did in dark clubs…the Tri-X is pushed and the grain is there. And the grain is good.

Yet today, we’re trying for those clean photos at hi ISO. It’s a wacky thing, this photography.

Thanks for introducing me to it.”

It is a wacky thing indeed, doing this, either for fun, or serious intent. Grain is good, and has character, and in a funny way, almost immediately locates the viewer of a photo in terms of the era it was made. It’s a totem, a harking back, a reminder of where we came from, long before the age of the highly polished pixel. I find myself experimenting with film again. And at the same time appreciating the unbelievable gifts digital photography has given all of us.

But given the fact he took the time to chime in this week, and mentioned shooting concerts back in the day, I thought I’d ease into the weekend and throw up a few ASA 1600, Tri-x snaps I made at a show with the ultimate Jersey Guy, the Boss, circa 1977-78, Madison Square Garden. Enjoy the weekend everybody! More tk….

 

 

 

 

 

Adorama Meets Fashion Week

Feb 10

In Friends, Links, News at 9:02am

Adorama, the camera store, took a plunge into the wild world of fashion this past week. Yowza.

Seems the store had a vacant space, big enough for a runway, chandeliers, and a press lounge, not to mention dozens of impossibly tall women wearing everything from sequins to feathers. In a city where there are lots of folks trying to make a statement, every day, nothing takes a back seat to Fashion Week, which explodes this time every year, colorful as a Carmen Miranda headdress. This year it’s been a refreshing splash of vibrance and life in the midst of a burg traumatized by a Polar Vortex, desperate for winter to be over, and so bored with waiting for a sliver of sunlight as to become heated over the way the new mayor eats pizza.

Getting the management of Adorama, whose sartorial tendencies favor black and white, on board with the wild and wooly nature of the fashionista crowd, was an interesting leap, indeed. My wife, Annie Cahill, who runs the Adorama Pro Department, is nothing if not fiercely determined, saw the possibilities of the empty space, and fashion folks who needed to display their wares, and made the match. It’s also been an opportunity for multiple communities to get together…..the photo folks, the fashion folks, and even the whole neighborhood of Chelsea. I tried to get a coffee at a local bistro I drop by every once in a while and forget it, the line was out the door. Busy, in a word. 

So, it’s been nothing short of fantastic! An otherwise vacant storefront on 17th St. is swirling with life, color and clothes that I guess some people wear, sometimes, quite likely well after I go to sleep. And of course, where there’s designers, gowns and models, there’s photographers. Lots of them. Some, admittedly, more professional than others, and some who look like they belong on the runway on the other side of the lens, but photogs galore, and pictures by the thousands.

I dropped by after straight after getting off a plane the other day, stupidly, without my DSLRs, and just an Iphone.(Which actually made me fit in quite well with all the other fancily dressed swells and assorted hangers-on.). And of course, my bud Peter Tsai snaps Numnuts here chimping on the damn smart phone. Sigh.

More tk….

A Family Album, a While in the Making….

Jul 31

In Friends at 8:09am

Donald Blake holds Cayus, Deidre Dean’s new baby. Shot on July 27th, 2013.

I understand a popular phenomenon is the concept, or game, of degrees of separation. It posits that in this ever-shrinking world, we are all connected in surprisingly close ways. True enough, I imagine. But, as a weary photog, I rejoice in the simpler connections that pictures I’ve made of people along the way provide. A lifelong family photo album, if you will.

I started photographing Deidre and Donald years ago. Unlike many photogs, who understandably search for the new face, I am often content with those who are familiar to me. The trust that has built over time is not to be ignored. Nor is the ongoing inspiration that can fill my imagination, and my lens, with people I know and love.

“D,” as I refer to her, is a one woman Cirque du Soleil, a performance artist who has regularly been able to physicalize my somewhat bent imagination. (I wrote the Cirque comment once about her in a book, and she has embraced that as a wonderful compliment.) Donald, the Moses of the Southwest, has become my lifelong friend. On the occasion of my recent birthday, he and his honey Mary Jo gave me a necklace with a silver eagle, with embedded Arizona turquoise. Donald said to me, “Joe, you have the eye of an eagle, and I want you to have this.” It instantly became one of the treasures of my life.

So it goes. I started making demo portraits of these two when I started teaching at the Santa Fe Photo Workshops. Over time, I became fast friends with the model community there, and, in between teaching stints, they’ve become a staple when I have some measure of commercial work, an idea for a book picture, or a wacky portrait notion I might want to experiment with. In turn, they would call me. D once rang me up and said, “Hey, wanna shoot me? I shaved my head!” Those sessions, with D having been cast as a prisoner of war in a small indie, became part of a book project. 

Donald ended up on the cover of a book, Sketching Light, after a five minute demo portrait session in pre-storm conditions in New Mexico.

D and I wandered through the New Mexican forest, after the fires a couple years ago. One of the things you don’t worry about when she is in front of your lens is range of expression.

Donald, aka Moses, helped me engage in a bit of whimsy with a speed light.

And now Deidre’s a mom. And, as luck would have it, she knows this photog who’s always up for doing a baby portrait. 

Technically, the pictures above are simplicity itself. Virtually all of them are one light portraits. The B&W baby portraits are done with a 74″ Elinchrom, with a D800E setup for monochrome and a 5×4 aspect ratio. Donald with the church, and D as a prisoner are both done with an Elinchrom beauty dish. D in the forest is lit with a shoot through version of a Lastolite 8 in 1 umbrella, on a paint pole, with speed lights. And the wind whipped portrait of Donald is a small Elinchrom strip light.

Neither of these folks would have ever come in front of my lens were it not for the friendship of Nerissa Escanlar, who has, for many years, been the liaison between the workshops and the model community in Santa Fe. She is moving on now, to Washington DC, where no doubt her tireless energy and decency will straighten the whole mess there out.

Friends, and pictures. A family album, built over time. More tk…..

 

The Estimable Mr. Harvey

Apr 2

In Friends, history at 3:59am

Saw Dave Harvey the other week, at GPP in Dubai. We’ve known each other for a long time, but, as is typical amongst traveling shooters, we hadn’t seen each other for several years. Maybe it’s just the way of photographers, we’re close in spirit, if almost never in flesh. We picked back up like we had seen each other yesterday, recalling immediately a legendarily drunken, depressed conversation we gather occurred between the two of us at least 22 or so years ago. It was at a bar in a sad Days Inn in upstate NY, spitting distance from Eddie Adams’ barn, and Dave and I commiserated and bitched about the business at hand. Everything sucked, everything was getting worse, there were no assignments, and the magazines we worked for were going down the tubes. Read the rest of this entry »